Regular visitors here will know that we like to make a lot of things ourselves at Happy Acres. We do so for many different reasons. For one thing, when it comes to food, homemade usually tastes better. And when you make something yourself you can control what goes into it (healthy wholesome ingredients), and also what doesn’t go in (lots of sugar, salt, and unpronounceable additives and preservatives). As an added benefit, homemade items are also usually less expensive. That appeals to my wife and I, since we both have the frugal gene!
So I guess it’s only natural we would want to make our own granola bars, isn’t it? I’ve been fine-tuning this recipe for about six months now, and I’ve baked a lot of granola bars in the process. I started with a recipe from King Arthur flour, and immediately began tweaking it. For one thing, it had way too much sugar for our tastes. And I also wanted to bump up the fiber and nutrition, without adding too many calories.
The recipe that follows is the one that evolved out of all that testing and tasting. I know, it’s a thankless job, and I get to do it! Well, actually my wife helped a lot with the tasting. Better give credit where credit is due, right?
This recipe is pretty flexible. Almost any combination of nuts or seeds can be used. Ditto for the dried fruits, though sticky fruits seem to work better than drier ones. I tried one combination with dried apples and apricots and the bars fell apart. We ate them anyway, but I won’t make it that way again.
1-2/3 cups rolled oats
1/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup flour, whole wheat or white whole wheat
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp ground cinnamon
1 cup dried fruit (I use a mix of cherries, blueberries and cranberries)
1 cup chopped unsalted nuts and seeds
1/3 cup wheat germ
1/4 cup cocoa powder
1/4 cup canola oil (or melted butter)
1/4 cup honey
2 tbsp corn syrup (or brown rice syrup)
1 Tbs water
1 tsp vanilla extract
Nutrition Facts (16 servings)
Nutrition (per serving): 231 calories, 84 calories from fat, 9.9g total fat, 0mg cholesterol, 77.4mg sodium, 168.3mg potassium, 33.5g carbohydrates, 4g fiber, 15.1g sugar, 5.3g protein, 28.5mg calcium, 1.1g saturated fat.
1. Preheat oven to 350F. Line a 13″x9″x2″ baking pan with a piece of parchment paper. Cut parchment a little bit oversize in length (make it about 17″x9″). The extra paper will make “handles” to lift the bars out after baking. Spray parchment paper and pan with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Stir together all the dry ingredients (oats through cocoa powder) in a large mixing bowl. In separate bowl, whisk together the oil, honey, corn syrup, water and vanilla. Add wet ingredients to the dry, and stir until mixture is evenly moistened.
3. Spread mixture in prepared pan, pressing down firmly (I use a silicone spatula).
4. Bake for 25-30 minutes, turning pan once at the halfway point. Remove from oven and let pan cool on rack until completely cool.
5. Remove from pan, using parchment “handles”, and cut into bars. If you are careful, the parchment paper can be reused for the next batch.
If you have trouble with bars being crumbly or falling apart after baking, it could be you need to add more liquid (oil, honey or corn syrup). Also make sure to press the mixture firmly and evenly all over the pan before baking. Also, if bars are not sweet enough just add more sugar or honey, or both.